Council adopts new rules to deal with ticket touts for March races

Published on 12th March 2018

Horse racing

Cheltenham Borough Council has adopted new rules to restrict the activity of ticket touts during the March races.

The new restrictions adopted will make it an offence for any person to sell, expose, make available or advertise any tickets for sale for the Festival in March other than through official channels.

Much of the town centre, the roads leading up to the racecourse, the area around the train station and the public areas on the racecourse have been adopted as restricted areas. The effect of the Order is that any person found to be in breach of it will be guilty of an offence and may be issued with either a £80 fine or be reported for an offence. 

The council and police officers will work together in a proactive operation to enforce the Order and where appropriate will issue ticket touts with fines.

Whilst ticket touts during horse racing events are not a new phenomenon, the increased popularity of horseracing events in Cheltenham has seen an increase in touting activity that has become more competitive which in turn has caused touts to become bolder and aggressive in their approach to ensure they are able to sell their tickets before the end of the festival to mitigate financial loss.

The new rules have been adopted as part of a wider plan to continue to improve the effectiveness of the management of the racing festival in March to ensure that it remains a safe, well managed and enjoyable week for residents and visitors.

Councillor Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety said: “The Cheltenham Festival in March is a very important week for Cheltenham but equally continues to be a challenge for the council and its partners to manage effectively.  We review our approach to managing the event each year with partners in order to identify areas for improvement.

“The adoption of this Order is part of the work to improve our management of the event to ensure that it remains a safe and well managed event for our residents and visitors to the town.”

Superintendent Tony Godwin of Gloucestershire Constabulary said: “As part of our duties, officers will be supporting Cheltenham Borough Council and the Racecourse in ensuring ticket touts do not breach the dispersal order. We will be issuing warnings to ticket touts who operate in the restricted areas, asking them to leave the area for 24 hours, and if appropriate issuing penalty notices. We hope this will reduce the nuisance caused to racegoers and other members of the public.

“We will also be working with partners to deliver a safe environment for those who wish to enjoy Cheltenham during the night time economy.”

Ian Renton, regional director of the south west region of The Jockey Club added, “Following The Festival in 2017, Cheltenham Racecourse has worked closely with Cheltenham Borough Council in regards to the issue of touts. We have been aware for a number of years that our customers are impacted by touts who are active on and around our site during racedays; in essence it was one of the top three complaints that we received after last year’s Festival.

“Over previous years we have worked closely with our own contractors, local police and now Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC) to reduce the impact the touts have on the raceday experience that we offer. CBC have introduced ahead of this year’s Festival, a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which makes it an offence to sell a ticket within Cheltenham Racecourse and the surrounding town. As part of this, we have a responsibility to inform our customers not to sell any unwanted tickets to touts so that they do not fall foul of the PSPO themselves and receive a fixed penalty.

“For those attending The Festival this year without a ticket, sales will be available at the racecourse, in the town centre and at the train station.

“We very much hope that the new PSPO provides an improved experience for our customers on arrival and protects racegoers from the purchase of tickets that may be invalid.”

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